Shabbat Message from Ezra S. Shanken

Next Steps in Community Recovery Work

Shabbat Message from CEO Ezra S. Shanken


February 4, 2022 | 3 Adar 5782



This message has about 778 words and will take less than 4 minute to read.

It was another busy week. As you may have seen, we joined our advocacy partner, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, Jewish Federations of North America, and numerous other organizations in condemning the Amnesty International report that demonizes Israel and calls into question its right to exist. We strenuously oppose it and invite you to read CIJA’s statement here.
We will keep you posted if more comes from this, but now let’s shift to the positive.
In July of 2020 we established our Community Recovery Task Force, chaired by Risa Levine, and in the year and a half that has followed they have done a tremendous service to our community. At our last Board meeting, Risa provided a summary as they concluded the majority of their work and announced their next steps.
Combined with the emergency funds we released at the start of the initial lockdown almost two years ago, we’ve distributed nearly $1,320,000 to aid community recovery from the impact of COVID.
Here is a summary of Community Recovery Fund distributions to date:
Initial grants $593,100
These grants addressed the immediate consequences of the pandemic on the day to day operations of local organizations in the areas of technology, mental health, operational losses, COVID-associated expenses, critical social services, and capacity building.
Camp Grants $111,000
Summer camps play an important role in maintaining the mental health of children and youth, and these grants helped offset the significant expenses camps incurred in order to meet new public health guidelines.
Capacity Grants $25,500
These grants were designed to assist organizations in hiring an outside facilitator to help them develop a recovery plan.
Transformation Grants $385,000
These grants are catalysts for developing innovative and collaborative programs and services that will lead to long term change in the community.
Transition Grants $200,000
These grants enabled agencies to maintain stability and restore their revenue streams.
Additional funds have been distributed recently for continuing COVID needs, such as the N95 masks for schools and community organizations that we wrote about a few weeks ago, and small gifts to frontline community staff in special recognition of their outstanding commitment over the last year.
The task force’s final recommendation is that when it is determined that the pandemic is truly over, if there are funds remaining, these should be used so that we can continue to be prepared to help agencies in future crises.
Risa also announced that we we will continue to address ongoing pandemic needs.
A subcommittee of the task force, comprised of Candace Kwinter, Hodie Kahn, Shawn Lewis, David Porte, and Risa Levine, with additional assistance from Diane Switzer, has been formed to respond to anticipated needs as a result of the continuation of the pandemic. They will consult with Shelley Rivkin, our vice president, global and local engagement, on the further expenditure of COVID recovery funds when new needs arise.
Risa noted that the impact of the pandemic has lingered longer than any of us could have guessed back in the early days. Fortunately, we planned for the effect to be felt well into 2021 and that long term outlook has positioned us incredibly well to be able to respond and extend our response. However, we have only been able to do this work because the right leadership and professional guidance have been in place. 
I want to reiterate what I said when the task force was first formed: the importance of this task force to our community’s wellbeing cannot be understated, such is the enormity of the pandemic’s impact on our community. I thank them again for their commitment to this vital work:
Risa Levine, chair
Andrew Altow
Jill Diamond
Michelle Gerber
Hodie Kahn
Candace Kwinter
Shawn Lewis
David Porte
Justin L. Segal
Isaac Thau
I also want to thank our two senior staff members who provided professional support to the task force: Shelley Rivkin, our vice president, global and local engagement; and Marcie Flom, executive director of the Jewish Community Foundation.
Here’s what Risa had to say when she reflected on the experience: “From my vantage point, as chair of the task force and an active community participant, what I see is a community that is cohesive, committed, caring and in so many ways thriving under the leadership of our strong Federation. Kol Hakavod to all. G-d willing we will soon be through this time of lurching from crisis to crisis and find new opportunities to enrich the lives of everyone in our community.”
Thank you to everyone who has contributed to the Community Recovery Fund or helped in others ways to keep our community vibrant!

Shabbat Shalom.


Ezra S. Shanken
Chief Executive Officer

Masks delivered to the JCC